New petition asks Raimondo to speed up phased reopening of RI

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — An online petition signed by hundreds of Rhode Islanders is urging Gov. Gina Raimondo to rethink her phased approach to reopening the economy.

The Gaspee Business Network started an online petition last week stating that Raimondo’s plan is too restrictive and slow for the state’s smal businesses.

“People are losing their livelihoods daily, it’s not just jobs, they are losing everything they’ve invested in and we’re just trying to get a petition together to say ‘Hey don’t forget about us,'” Mike Collins, a spokesperson for Gaspee Business Network, said.

Collins said the petition so far has nearly 400 signatures.

Raimondo detailed her plan to reopen the state’s economy Monday. The first phase of her plan would allow non-critical retailers to reopen beginning May 9 under the same restrictions as grocery stores.

“We’re going to still encourage pre-ordering and in-store pick up as the best and safest option,” Raimondo said.

Raimondo said all retailers should “be able to have one person browsing for every 300 square feet of space.”

Collins believes Raimondo has done a good job overall throughout the pandemic, but he wants her to put more trust in the state’s small businesses.

“They can take care of themselves, they aren’t looking to get anyone sick or hurt,” Collins said.

Collins hopes the petition will make it’s way to Raimondo’s desk and convince her to give all businesses the same health protocols that have been provided to larger retailers.

“A gradual phase in and selectiveness, yes, but I think we need to speed it up a little bit,” he said.

Raimondo said she recognizes that not all businesses will be able to reopen because of limited capacity and she will work hard to include them after phase one, which she expects will last two weeks.

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